Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

LZ: The hypocrisy of L.A. NAACP

By LZ Granderson, CNN Contributor
updated 6:47 PM EDT, Wed April 30, 2014
The NBA's<a href='http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/29/us/clippers-sterling-scandal/index.html' target='_blank'> suspension and $2.5-million fine for Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling</a> sent shockwaves through the sports world, but it's not the first time a league has cracked down on a team owner. The NBA's suspension and $2.5-million fine for Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling sent shockwaves through the sports world, but it's not the first time a league has cracked down on a team owner.
HIDE CAPTION
Team owners behaving badly
Team owners behaving badly
Team owners behaving badly
Team owners behaving badly
Team owners behaving badly
Team owners behaving badly
Team owners behaving badly
Team owners behaving badly
Team owners behaving badly
Team owners behaving badly
Team owners behaving badly
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • LZ: It's hypocrisy for NAACP to join groups in calling out NBA's former tolerance of Sterling
  • Group's L.A. chapter accepted money from him, was set to honor him for second time
  • LZ: Abiding Sterling's racism isn't selling out, it's giving integrity away
  • LZ: NAACP can't point finger at NBA for tolerating Sterling; it must get own house in order

Editor's note: LZ Granderson is a CNN contributor, a senior writer for ESPN and lecturer at Northwestern University. Commentary by the former Hechinger Institute fellow has been recognized by the Online News Association, the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. Follow him on Twitter @locs_n_laughs. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN) -- The NAACP needs to sit down.

Though it's debatable how effective a punishment Donald Sterling's lifetime ban from the NBA will be -- considering that for the time being, he still owns and thus profits from the L.A. Clippers -- the one voice that should not be involved in this discussion is that of the NAACP. Not after news that the Los Angeles chapter was prepared to bestow upon the disgraced Sterling -- whose racist behavior has long been known -- a second lifetime achievement award next month. (The offer, not surprisingly, has been withdrawn.)

LZ Granderson
LZ Granderson

On Tuesday, after NBA Commissioner Adam Silver brought down punishment on Sterling, the NAACP added its voice to a joint statement with the National Urban League, the National Action Network and the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation that said "Sterling's long-established pattern of bigotry and racist comments have not been a secret in the NBA ... yet until now, they have been tolerated and met with a gentle hand and a blind eye."

Say what?

Tax records accessed on CitizenAudit.org, according to an article in the Huffington Post, revealed that the NAACP's L.A. branch had been party to the sanitizing of Sterling's legacy. How? The group has received $45,000 from Sterling's foundations, which, given the real-estate mogul's net worth of nearly $2 billion, is peanuts.

The phrase "sell out" is one that gets tossed around, but for some reason, it doesn't quite cover the NAACP's L.A. chapter in this case.

The first time Sterling was awarded a lifetime achievement award by the group was in the midst of a lawsuit for housing discrimination based upon race. To decide to honor him with the award a second time, after he had paid millions to settle multiple discrimination suits, after learning that he allegedly said that "all the blacks in this building, they smell, they're not clean" and "Mexicans ... just sit around and smoke and drink all day ... so we have to get them out of here," is not selling out.

Selling out makes financial sense.

No, considering what $45,000 means to a man of Sterling's wealth, honoring him with awards is just giving integrity away. I understand that Sterling has donated to other black groups and established a scholarships for black students at UCLA. And while that's a positive, I also understand that such donations are tax-deductible and do not require him to actually be around black people. Something, according to the now-infamous recordings, he is not a big fan of. At least not at his games.

Ex-player: No room in sport for bigotry
NBA reacts to Sterling's lifetime ban
What happens to the Clippers now?

The NAACP's willful blind spot is particularly disturbing when you consider the growing wealth gap between blacks and whites in this country and that the biggest factors in that gap are fair housing and education. How could an organization supposedly dedicated to the economic advancement of blacks honor someone the Department of Justice said was working against its mission?

This curiosity is very similar to the New York chapter of the NAACP joining a lawsuit with the United Federation of Teachers in 2011 in an effort to squeeze out successful charter schools and protect failing traditional public schools. Thousands of parents, many of them minorities, protested.

As was the case with the L.A. chapter, money reportedly was a factor in the New York chapter's allegiance.

It's fine for the national organization to characterize questionable decision-making by local chapters as anomalies, but it's hard to view the goings-on in New York and Los Angeles, the two largest cities in the country, as just being local.

No, instead of worrying about joining in the censure of Sterling, the NAACP -- which is currently searching for a new executive director -- should worry about itself. When the NAACP held a funeral for the N-word in 2007, it felt as if the organization had buried its relevance beside it. It didn't help that the person helping lead the ceremony was former Detroit Mayor/felon Kwame Kilpatrick.

Yeah.

In light of the crippling socioeconomic impact that housing discrimination has had on minorities in general and Los Angeles in particular, for chapter President Leon Jenkins to say "God teaches us to forgive" in the same interview Monday in which he said "we are negotiating with him about giving more moneys to African-American students at UCLA," it sounds to me the NAACP needs to take that finger it's wagging at Silver and the NBA and point it back at themselves.

Silver's working to clean up his house, but the NAACP still looks dirty.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook.com/CNNOpinion.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 6:03 PM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
It used to be billy clubs, fire hoses and snarling German shepherds. Now it's armored personnel carriers and flash-bang grenades, writes Kara Dansky.
updated 1:27 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Maria Haberfeld: People who are unfamiliar with police work can reasonably ask, why was an unarmed man shot so many times, and why was deadly force used at all?
updated 5:52 PM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
Ruben Navarrette notes that this fall, minority students will outnumber white students at America's public schools.
updated 5:21 PM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
Humans have driven to extinction four marine mammal species in modern times. As you read this, we are on the brink of losing the fifth, write three experts.
updated 7:58 AM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
It's been ten days since Michael Brown was killed, and his family is still waiting for information from investigators about what happened to their young man, writes Mel Robbins
updated 10:11 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Sally Kohn says the Ferguson protests reflect broader patterns of racial injustice across the country, from chronic police violence and abuse against black men to the persistent economic and social exclusion of communities of color.
updated 8:42 AM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
The former U.K. prime minister and current U.N. envoy says there are 500 days left to fulfill the Millennium Goals' promise to children.
updated 9:10 AM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
Julian Zelizer says the left mistrusts Clinton but there are ways she can win support from liberals in 2016
updated 1:38 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Peter Bergen says the terror group is a huge threat in Iraq but only a potential one in the U.S.
updated 1:34 PM EDT, Sat August 16, 2014
Mark O'Mara says the way cops, media, politicians and protesters have behaved since Michael Brown's shooting shows not all the right people have learned the right lessons
updated 11:23 AM EDT, Sun August 17, 2014
Retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling says the American military advisers in Iraq are sizing up what needs to be done and recommending accordingly
updated 3:41 PM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Marc Lamont Hill says the President's comments on the Michael Brown shooting ignored its racial implications
updated 5:46 PM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Joe Stork says the catastrophe in northern Iraq continues, even though many religious minorities have fled to safety: ISIS forces -- intent on purging them -- still control the area where they lived
updated 6:26 PM EDT, Thu August 14, 2014
Tim Lynch says Pentagon's policy of doling out military weapons to police forces is misguided and dangerous.
updated 9:15 AM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
S.E. Cupp says millennials want big ideas and rapid change; she talks to one of their number who serves in Congress
updated 7:57 PM EDT, Thu August 14, 2014
Dorothy Brown says the power structure is dominated by whites in a town that is 68% black. Elected officials who sat by silently as chaos erupted after Michael Brown shooting should be voted out of office
updated 7:49 AM EDT, Thu August 14, 2014
Bill Schmitz says the media and other adults should never explain suicide as a means of escaping pain. Robin Williams' tragic death offers a chance to educate about prevention
updated 11:05 AM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Nafees Syed says President Obama should renew the quest to eliminate bias in the criminal justice system
updated 4:24 PM EDT, Thu August 14, 2014
Eric Liu says what's unfolded in the Missouri town is a shocking violation of American constitutional rights and should be a wake-up call to all
updated 3:22 PM EDT, Wed August 13, 2014
Neal Gabler says Lauren Bacall, a talent in her own right, will be defined by her marriage with the great actor Humphrey Bogart
updated 6:56 AM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Bob Butler says the arrest of two journalists covering the Ferguson story is alarming
updated 4:35 PM EDT, Wed August 13, 2014
Mark O'Mara says we all need to work together to make sure the tension between police and African-Americans doesn't result in more tragedies
updated 4:06 PM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
Pepper Schwartz asks why young women are so entranced with Kardashian, who's putting together a 352-page book of selfies
updated 7:08 PM EDT, Wed August 13, 2014
Michael Friedman says depression does not discriminate, cannot be bargained with and shows no mercy.
updated 11:25 AM EDT, Tue August 12, 2014
LZ Granderson says we must not surrender to apathy about the injustice faced by African Americans
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT